Franciscan Penance Library
Healing and Change
They reached Jericho; and as he left Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus -- that is, the son of Timaeus -- a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and cry out, 'Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.' And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, 'Son of David, have pity on me.' Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him here.' So they called the blind man over. 'Courage,' they said, 'get up; he is calling you.' So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man said to him, 'Rabbuni, let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has saved you.' And at once his sight returned and he followed him along the road. (Mark 10: 46-52)
I have to think that Jesus so often felt like a biological parent. Obviously, Jesus was ready for it since he is God and we are his children.
Look at the Gospel story of Bartimaeus. Doesn’t this sound like a parent and his kids? “I need something and I want it now!” That incessant tugging that a child would do. It makes me think of little kids in a grocery store line right by the candy station. Whoever invented that station, I think moms hate the most. “Mom, mom, mom, look, Snickers!” Doesn’t that drive you nuts?
Isn’t that what Bartimaeus was doing in this Gospel? “Jesus, son of David, hear me! Please!”
And so often God does to us just like a parent would. Our Lord desires what is good for us and, if we are persistent, he is going to listen and hear us. The theme of this Gospel is that we have to work for God’s graces. If we wish to live as Christians, and wish to have the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our lives, then we have to work for it.
This story of Bartimaeus shows us what the stages of conversion are. These are the four things that we must do.
First Bartimaeus wanted to ask Jesus for healing. Have you noticed that, when Jesus heals someone, he does not just heal them, generally speaking, although he could. But that is not what he does. Instead he waits and allows us to call out to him. And then he asks the question, “What is it that you want me to do for you? What do you want from me?”
There is a lot going on with Bartimaeus. He was not just blind. He was also sitting at the roadside begging which meant that he did not have money. He did not have a family to support him. This man had issues!
What the Lord really wanted to know was, “Have you actually thought about what you really need?”
So often that is the problem with kids. They asked for things without thinking about what they really need.
We need to ask, “What is the root of our problem? What is the root of my sin?” Whether our sin is greed, or lust, or sloth, or gossiping, or whatever it might be, those sins are usually just the external manifestation of what is going on internally.
We need to think about what is going on internally. What is the root of our problems? Is it trying to find our fulfillment in this world? Is it the fact that we do not even think about the next world? We should be living for the next world rather than living for this world.
When Jesus asks you, “What is it that you wish me to do for you?”, what answer are you going to give him? You have to know what your problem is before you ask for the right solution.
The second thing we have to do is call out like Bartimaeus and keep calling out. But we need to expect to be answered in his time not ours. Jesus wants to see persistence in us, just like all parents want to see persistence in their children.
What does it usually take to get parents to say yes to something? Do they normally just give it the first time the child asks? No! The child generally has to beg and beg and beg, and then the parents say, ”Sure, if you clean the dishes and clean your room and be nice for a month and get A’s in all of your assignments from now to the end of school.”
Ultimately that is what Jesus does. He is asking, “Do you really want this? Do you really want the healing that you are asking for? Because if you do, you are going to seek it out in the way that I have offered you.”
What does Jesus tell us, “If you go to confession, if you deny yourself, and practice penance, offer up your sufferings, fastings. If you actually want this, are you willing to put effort into it?”
So once we find what the root of our problem is, the next thing is you have to put your money where your mouth is and say, “Lord, I not only know what the root of my problem is, but I am going to search out those many ways that you have given me to fix it.” And all the while you do this, you know that it may take a long time. And our answer may not just happen, just like that.
The third thing is to not be silenced. When Bartimaeus was crying out, the people following Jesus were telling him, “SHUT UP! Go back to your mat! Here is a quarter. Go sit there. Stop bothering Jesus. He is trying to save the world. Go sit in the back of the line, honey.” They were constantly trying to silence him.
People will try to silence us well. Because when you find the root of your problem and start going to confession regularly, and you start trying to build up your life in the way of holiness and trying to deny yourself, and take on little sufferings, what are people going to tell you? They are going to tell you that you’re crazy. They are going to try and silence you. They are going to say, “Obviously this is not working. Why do you even bother?”
There was another person who tried to do the same thing to Jesus. His name is Peter, and what did Jesus say, “Get the behind me, satan.” Struggling is worth it. Do not be silenced.
Life is like being on a football team. You have to work hard to get on the team. You have to put in that effort. And you have to know that the first year you start, you will not be playing on the field, because you have to work hard before you get to play on the field. And you can’t let anyone silence you and say, “You might as well give up, because you are never going to make it.” That’s not the attitude of a football star! You keep going because you have grit. You have tenacity. That’s what makes a great athlete. You do not just become a great athlete. You have to work for it.
So, step one -- we are blind and we have to find the root of the problem. Step two -- we have to never give up and we have to put some work into this. “I am going to deny myself, and, Lord, I am going to show you how much I want to be healed. I am not going to give up.” Step three--I will not be silenced by the world. I will not let this failure in my life hold me back. I will not give into the devil.
Lastly, we have to change. We have to be ready for change. Did you catch that nuance in the Gospel? When Jesus called Bartimaeus, he threw off his cloak and went to Jesus. If he thought he would not be healed, he would have carried his cloak with him. Bartimaeus was ready for change! He believed he would be healed so he would be able to see where he left the cloak once his sight returned.
Are we prepared for change? Bartimaeus did not just go back to his mat after he was healed. No, he changed. He said, “Lord, I will now follow you.”
Brothers and sisters, we have to change something in our lives. If you ever wish to be healed, you must change. Because the greatest temptation for Bartimaeus is that, now that he can see with the eyes that the Lord gave him, he could still be spiritually blind and fall into sin. All of us can still fall back into blindness.
We all have to change our lives. There has to be something that changes to live the Christian life. Following the Gospel is not easy. But it is worth the effort.
Do you want to be healed enough to change your life? Do you want to be healed enough to keep calling out? Do you want to be healed enough to spend time thinking about what the root of your sinfulness is? If you follow . Bartimaeus in these four steps, I cannot promise you success in this world, but I can promise you success in the next. Do you want heaven are not? May the victory of salvation be yours, through the sufferings you have in this life.
--Father Jacob Meyer